San Chief delivers candid speech at UNAM Cultural Festival

Dancing, feasting and a rich variety of cultural display in the form of attire, ornaments and artefacts were the norm at this year’s UNAM Cultural Festival, themed “Culture, our way of life”.

“Next to graduation ceremonies, the festival is the most anticipated event on the university calendar”, remarked Ms Margreth Mainga, the Dean of Students. The festival was themed “Culture, our way of life”.

The real splendour of this year’s festival was the presence of Honourable Hendrik Martins, a San Chief. He was the guest of honour and therefore, delivered the keynote speech in which he candidly spoke about how development is at odds with some local cultures.

“I thank the University of Namibia and the organizers for creating this platform for all us to talk about culture and educate the young people about the importance of culture”, remarked the confident Chief.

He further urged young people not to forget or despise their own cultures as they embrace the modern ones. “Even in our own nomadic way of life, we have strong moral values, norms and customs that impose a duty to respect the elders, take care of our immediate environment that sustains our existence and promote the culture of hard work”, he elaborated.

He also appealed to the government and all stakeholders driving the development agenda, saying that development has negatively affected the livelihood of the san people and other nomadic communities to such an extent that their economic and social life has been seriously disrupted.

“In the past, our people used the forest for hunting to get meat for their families, as well as to gather fruits, tubers and other types of food and collect water to sustain their families. Now, because of development, farmers have fenced of large tracks of land as private farms which they claim is private property and restrict our people’s movement and capacity to produce enough food for themselves and their families”, said a distraught Chief Hendriks.

He concluded by asking the government to fast-track and accelerate the efforts to intensify the programmes to assist the nomadic and marginalized communities affected by the fast pace of urbanization and development.

The Chief’s speech was followed by an exhilarating cultural performance by members of his community along with some San students studying at UNAM.